Person of the Week
GAC Selects Talented Gonzalez as Resident Potter
Guilford Art Center Resident Potter Jasmine Gonzalez says she enjoys the
community of working with other artists, of all levels, at Guilford Art Center. The talented and promising young artist crafts both functional and more conceptual, sculptural works. (Photo courtesy of the Guilford Art Center)
With talent and promise in her hands, Jasmine Gonzalez is happy and excited have been selected as the first Resident Potter for Guilford Art Center's (GAC) newly-launched residency program.
Fresh from the University of Hartford, Hartford Art School (BFA 2014, major in Ceramics and Sculpture; minor in Art History), Jasmine applied for the new GAC resident position last August. Residency opportunities in her field are generally few and far between, so Jasmine leapt at the chance.
"I instantly applied," says the Hartford resident. "When I visited the facilities, I realized how unique it is. There's really no other facility like it in our area."
GAC's ceramics studio is equipped with 12 wheels, a hand building table, three electric kilns, slab roller, extruder, outdoor downdraft gas kiln, raku kiln, and a glaze mixing room. GAC offers classes for adults and children, Home School programs, weekend workshops, and summer classes for children. Studio students have four different clay bodies and a large selection of glazes to work with. As Resident Potter, Jasmine helps oversee the studio, works with GAC instructors and students of all levels; and has GAC's wealth of equipment and supplies at her disposal.
"The residency is great because it offers a studio for artists who need a space and can't afford your own studio. It's amazing to have the machines, equipment and kilns; and to meet new artists and work with students of different abilities," says Jasmine.
She began her residency in January and will be at GAC through August.
"It's been really nice," Jasmine says. "Everyone is really neighborly and friendly. The teachers who teach at the facility – I have so many connections to them already. One teacher went to Hartford Art School like I did, and we had some of the same professors. And in just in the pottery world alone, to gain connections like this is so important."
GAC Pottery Studio Manager Lisa Wolkow says having a Resident Potter adds another layer to a studio that has much to offer.
"This is a wonderful studio for both new students to discover their love of clay, and longtime potters to continue to pursue their craft," says Wolkow. "Our new Resident Potter is an asset to our studio, along with our instructors providing great guidance to artisans of all abilities and interest levels."
Jasmine began pursuing the art form in earnest at college.
"I definitely played with clay as a child, like when you make your first pinch pot in elementary school; but in high school I was more of a two-dimensional artist. They didn't have extensive pottery classes in the New Britain school system," she says. "When I went to college, I realized my mind works in so much more of a 3D aspect. I was drawn to clay and sculpture and that world."
The promising artist describes her current work as "...really natural; with a lot of floral elements. Sometimes it's functional, sometimes it's sculptural. I find my inspiration from nature itself. I'm really attracted to natural textures and colors."
Jasmine crafts both functional pottery and more conceptual, sculptural ceramic works. One of her favorite functional potters in the country is Martha Grover -- Jasmine likes Grover's use of airy colors and organic, floral forms – while she also looks to the work of sculptural artist Lindsay Feuer.
Jasmine's work will be featured in a GAC exhibit come August.
"I've only been here for a couple of months, so right now I'm testing a bunch of colors I want to use; and in the next couple of weeks, I should have a couple of pieces coming out," she says.
Beyond concentrating on her work in a space provided by GAC, Jasmine says she's busy absorbing the influences around her here -- and enjoying every moment.
"I work communally with everyone else," she says. "Some people are just learning to throw, some are making sculptural forms; some are making teapots. While we're working, we're talking, so ideas are being bounced around. I like learning like that."
After years of serious study and work to earn her degree, Jasmine adds it's inspiring to be working in a studio where she can meet beginners indulging in clay for the first time.
"They're less fearful," says Jasmine. "If you're shown everything that clay has to offer -- that you can make it into these amazing forms and objects -- when you're shown that all at once, you kind of get overwhelmed. If you're just being shown how to throw a bowl, then you don't seem as limited by what you've seen. They have their own organic ideas. Their mind is thinking in a different way."
Jasmine says she's very grateful to GAC for offering her the residency opportunity and is impressed with the caliber of work, programs and exhibits GAC brings to the shoreline and the greater art world.
Offering programs in the arts ranging from blacksmithing to jewelry, GAC currently serves over 2,000 students in classes. The non-profit school includes a shop and gallery. It presents juried and invitational exhibits of art in gallery and offers fine, handmade American crafts in its shop year-round. GAC's annual Craft Expo on the green (July) features works by more than 180 of the country's most distinguished artisans.
"It's really nice that the facility has all this attention," Jasmine says. "And they're really involved in Guilford and its community, and expanding their community into the world of Guilford. The GAC has stolen a piece of my heart by giving me the opportunity to show the world who I am as an artist."
For more information contact the Guilford Art Center at (203) 453-5947 or visit www.guilfordartcenter.org